May 21st, 2013 02:00 PM║ Posted By: John Pennington ║ Permalink
║ Schools: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Ole Miss, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt
Tags: Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss, SEC
Running or passing?
We wanted to know which statistics provided a more accurate gauge of overall success during the 2012 SEC football season. When talking about the SEC, defense is usually the first word out of the mouth of any coach, fan or pundit. Should it be?
From looking at six key (yet simple) statistics, the answer is yes.
Yesterday, we found that passing defense (opponents’ yards-per-pass-attempt) was more closely related to SEC wins and losses than passing offense (yards-per-pass-attempt).
Now, we’ll compare the yards-per-play numbers of each school on offense and on defense (opponents’ yards-per-play). Which statistic do you think served as a more accurate predictor of gridiron success?
2012 SEC Total Offense / Yards-Per-Play
The top three teams in this category all finished with six of more SEC wins. Also, the two SEC squads that went winless in 2012 ranked at the bottom of this chart. Obviously, offensive ability matters.
It just doesn’t matter as much as team’s defensive ability. Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Florida and LSU all ranked in the bottom half of the SEC in yards-per-play on offense yet those four teams went a combined 24-8 in league play last year. Meanwhile, Tennessee, MSU, Arkansas and Ole Miss all finished in the top half of the league in this measure while compiling a combined record of 10-22.
If our previous conclusions hold water, teams’ overall defensive rankings (opponents’ yards-per-play) should be the most telling of the six statistics we’ve broken down.
2012 SEC Total Defense / Opponents’ Yards-Per-Play
How’s that for lining up correctly?
The seven SEC squads with winning league marks in 2012 all ranked in the top half of the conference in yards-per-play allowed. Those teams totaled a combined record of 44-12. The seven squads with SEC winning percentages of .500 or lower all ranked in the bottom seven of the league in this category. Those teams finished the year 12-44.
To take things even further, the top four teams in this category (Florida, Alabama, South Carolina and LSU) went 26-6 in the SEC in 2012. The six teams that ranked in the middle (Vanderbilt, Georgia, Texas A&M, Ole Miss, Missouri and MSU) went 27-21 combined. And the four teams that the bottom of the table? Kentucky, Arkansas, Auburn and Tennessee finished a combined 3-29 on the season.
We wanted to know if defense really did trump offense in the Southeastern Conference last year. The numbers say it did. Whether it’s rushing defense, passing defense, or total defense, SEC wins and losses are still most often determined by strength on defense, not on offense.
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